Immigration, Infrastructure, Trade, and Corporate Governance top 2019 agenda alongside call for bipartisanship
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, in his annual State of American Business address today, laid out the business community’s top policy priorities for the coming year, casting the organization’s agenda as a means for preserving, strengthening, and expanding the American dream.
Tackling the U.S. economy’s workforce challenges – including through education and immigration reform – was labeled by Donohue as a key priority for 2019. Donohue also highlighted how modernizing America’s infrastructure, leveraging trade, and making it easier for businesses to go and stay public will be top issues for the year ahead. He rebutted talk of an economic downturn as he touted continued low unemployment, rising wages, and strong growth.
“Our challenge today is to preserve, strengthen, and expand the American dream – and put it within the reach of every child, every family, every worker, and every entrepreneur,” said Donohue. “The Chamber’s agenda for 2019 and beyond is built around this simple idea: to harness our newfound economic strength, do everything we can to keep it going, and to put it to work on behalf of all Americans who hope for a shot at their own unique American dream.”
As he made the case for restoring bipartisanship and avoiding governing by crisis, Donohue announced that the U.S. Chamber intends to help rebuild the middle in both parties by revamping its congressional scorecard, fundamentally changing the way it evaluates lawmakers’ records on business legislation. Moving forward, pro-business votes by members of Congress will remain essential, but lawmakers will also receive credit for showing leadership on good legislation, and bipartisan work will be taken into account.
“Dysfunction saps confidence, threatens growth, and consequently poses a threat to opportunity in this country,” said Donohue. “This new approach reflects our belief that many of Washington’s troubles – including dysfunction, division, and incivility – could be helped by rebuilding the political center and restoring responsible governing.”
A summary of the U.S. Chamber’s revamped legislative scorecard is available online here.
Additionally, Donohue listed several other issues on which the U.S. Chamber will actively engage this year, including health care, energy, regulation and legal reform, cybersecurity, and technology and intellectual property.
Donohue concluded the speech by describing a handful of overarching concerns that transcend the U.S. business community’s annual agenda, such as attacks on free speech and a lack of appreciation for the free enterprise system.
“Failed ideas like socialism or government-managed economies are steadily creeping into the political mainstream,” said Donohue. “Even with its occasional flaws and excesses, no one has ever devised a better system than free enterprise. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stick with the entrepreneurs, the innovators, and the dreamers.”
Today’s event marked the 20th delivery of the annual address by Donohue, who has led the U.S. Chamber since 1997.
To read Donohue’s remarks as prepared for delivery – click here